Bloor West Villager
What is it about famous men that make women throw themselves at them and toss their morals out the window?
Whether they're actors, singers, politicians or poets, some women just can't resist a man in the public eye and will shamelessly pursue him to get his attention, married or not.
The Village Players go out with a laugh in their final show of the season, Lend Me A Tenor by Ken Ludwig. In this play, all bets, and clothes, are off in this hilarious comedy about a famous Italian tenor who comes to sing in Cleveland, Ohio, and gets more than he bargains for as he's pursued by every woman in town.
This includes Maggie (Margaret Brock), the daughter of the opera director, Julia (Casey Kneller), the head of the opera board and fellow opera singer, Diana (Erin Jones), each of whom want a piece of him.
But from the beginning things go wrong. The tenor, Tito Merelli (Edward Karek) is late, much to the dismay of Saunders (Jamie Johnson) and his assistant Max (Joshua Mott) who have to make sure the show goes off without a hitch.
When Tito finally arrives with his wife Maria (Lydia Kiselyk), they're fighting like crazy and to top it off, the star tenor is ill and everyone starts to wonder if he will be able to sing that night's performance of Verdi's Otello.
With the pressure on Max to keep the singer happy, sober and healthy, he slips some pills into Tito's drink so he can rest. This renders him "unavailable" (so not to give it away) and the opera without a tenor. So Max, an opera-singer hopeful himself, decides to take his place and this is where the hysterical mayhem begins.
Ethnic comedy is always funny, especially if you are of that cultural background and can relate. But even if you aren't Italian, you will laugh out loud at Karek's mannerisms, gestures and Italo-Canadian accent. He and Kiselyk's portrayal of the couple, fighting with fire and passion, is some of the funniest character acting I've ever seen and not offensive in the least.
Mott and Johnson as Max and Saunders are a great comic duo, and Johnson played Saunders with the perfect intensity and drama of a director, while Mott gives a hilarious and believable performance in both his roles as Max and opera superstar.
While Karek's performance of Tito is often a scene-stealer, the female roles in this show are also well played and serve up many laughs. Each of them shamelessly (which brings hilarity) throw themselves at Tito, while Kiselyk as Maria gives a fiery, funny and ferocious performance as the fed up wife.
The set is cleverly constructed to depict a luxury hotel suite, complete with a living room, bedroom and bathroom, and with five working doors, there is a lot of farce-like elements such as mistaken identity and plotting.
While the show is longer in duration than expected for a comedy, consider it more time for laughing. It truly is an enjoyable show and a great way for the Village Players to end their season.
Lend Me A Tenor runs until May 19 at The Village Playhouse, 2190 Bloor St. W. at 8 p.m. General tickets are $20. For tickets please call 416-767-7702 or visit www.villageplayers.net